U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says ISIL militants threaten the entire Middle East, and the international community cannot allow that threat to go unchecked.
Kerry says the strength of ISIL finances and the size of the area under its control in Syria and Iraq make it a more dangerous threat than al-Qaida. In an interview with MSNBC television September 22, he said the Obama administration is determined to prevent that threat from reaching the United States.
“We learned with al-Qaida you cannot leave this extremist cultism ungoverned spaces to plot what they want,” he said. “They are dangerous to every country in the region, and you cannot have a challenge to the norms of international behavior, the rule of law, to states, and leave it unchallenged.”
U.S. airstrikes in support of a ground offensive by Iraqi forces are pushing ISIL fighters back toward Syria. Kerry told MSNBC there are no plans for U.S. ground forces in Iraq as “this is a fight for the region.”
“Every country in the region is deeply threatened by this. And that includes Iran, includes Lebanon, includes all of the neighborhood,” Kerry said. “And it is absolutely fair and appropriate for the world to expect that that region will fight for itself.”
ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani on September 22 told the group’s followers to attack citizens of the United States, France and any other countries that join a coalition against the militants.
Secretary Kerry is at the United Nations in New York to continue building that coalition after traveling last week to Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
He met September 21 with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius — France has now joined U.S. airstrikes in Iraq — and with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Iran is backing Iraqi forces against ISIL.